“The Celebration of Mass, as the action of Christ and the People of God arrayed hierarchically, is the centre of the whole Christian life for the Church both universal and local, as well as for each of the faithful individually.
“In it is found the high point both of the action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and of the worship that the human race offers to the Father, adoring him through Christ, the Son of God, in the Holy Spirit.” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #16)
The Eucharist is the heart and the summit of the Church’s life (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 1407)
These statements serve to reinforce the importance and dignity of the Eucharistic celebration and rightly so.
I cannot recall the numerous times I’ve heard preachers and speakers extol with a humble pride on the beauty and simplicity of the Sacred Liturgy and how it is supposed to flow seamlessly within the Rites uninterrupted.
We can pride ourselves on “having achieved so great a work” (CCC 1088), as the Body of Christ and His bride, the Church.
However, over the years, some laxity, and to some extent neglect, has crept into the Sacred Liturgy.
In the Introductory Rites of the Eucharist, there is a formal (liturgical) greeting by the presider with an appropriate response by the assembly.
“The Lord be with you.”
“And with your spirit.”
These days, this liturgical greeting seems to have lost some meaning for assemblies, or perhaps, even presiders themselves; Quite a few presiders “innovate” by mentioning a “follow-up’, informal greeting immediately after by saying, “Good morning,” thereby eliciting an added reciprocal response from the assembly.
This latter greeting comes after having just responded to the former, appropriate greeting.
The latter greeting could mean that the presider did not really mean the former greeting, but supposedly meant for the latter greeting to reinforce the former. This belittles and trivialises the liturgical greeting, an obvious detraction from the Liturgy because one can immediately sense the “break” in the flow of the Rites.
This is just one of several aspects of the Eucharistic celebration that presiders have detracted or digressed from.
Pope Benedict XVI (speaking in Vatican City in October 2012 during one of his weekly addresses), noted that when priests or parishioners reflect on how to make the liturgy “attractive, interesting and beautiful”, they can “risk forgetting the essential: The liturgy is celebrated for God and not for ourselves”, that the liturgy belongs to Jesus Christ and His Church, and should not be changed according to individual whims.
We have been taught that the Sacred Liturgy has been so ordered and that it should flow without interruption. In the same spirit, we share, teach and impress upon our catechumens the importance and sacredness of the Liturgy, made more prominent with the revised Roman Missal.
However, when presiders unilaterally choose to digress or detract from the Liturgy, how are we, as faith formators and sharers of the faith, able to explain such actions when we don’t live what we preach.
Its my hope that the appropriate authority in the archdiocese will take a closer look at the reverence, dignity and sacred awe that must be accorded the Sacred Liturgy.
I conclude in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “Let us ask the Lord to learn every day to live the sacred liturgy, especially the Eucharistic celebration, praying in the ‘we’ of the Church, that directs its gaze not in on itself, but to God, and feeling part of the living Church of all places and of all time.”
Michael A Samy